Former CBS Chairwoman Nina Tassler Leads Discussion On Latinx Industry Issues But Sidesteps Mention Of Les Moonves


Following Ronan Farrow’s New Yorker expose on Les Moonves that detailed the CBS Chairman and CEO’s alleged sexual misconduct over the years, a number of executives who’ve worked with him went on the record during the recent TCA tour to say myriad things from their inability to comment, to defending the CBS work climate to praising Moonves on his track record in television.

Television Academy Foundation board member, Nina Tassler, from left, Justina Machado, Gloria Calderón Kellett, Melissa Barrera, Mishel Prada and Tanya Saracho Phil McCarten/AP Images

Tonight at the Television Academy Foundation and Netflix event, The Power of TV, former CBS Entertainment chairwoman Nina Tassler, who worked with Moonves for 18 years at the network, chose to stay completely mum about her former colleague.

Unlike the network executives who took the stage during TCA and promptly responded to the Moonves-CBS scandal in some form or fashion, Tassler didn’t mention anything about the network boss during the Latinx panel she was moderating. Following the session, Tassler was whisked out of the room by Academy ushers. When asked by reporters about Moonves, Tassler responded “I’m so sorry, I’m so late, I have to catch a plane”. Tonight marked her first public appearance since the Moonves scandal broke.

The session which included actresses Justina Machado (One Day at a Time), Mishel Prada (Vida/Fear the Walking Dead: Passage) and Melissa Barrera (Vida/Club de Cuervos), plus EPs Gloria Calderón Kellett (One Day at a Time) and Tanya Saracho (Vida) explored how Latinx –the gender neutral term used in lieu of Latino or Latina– is still underrepresented in Hollywood, repping 6% parts in TV and 5% in film, despite the fact that the community accounts for 18% of the U.S. population and by 2035 will grow to close to 25%, ultimately overtaking Caucasians.

“When I first started, this would never have happened,” said Tassler about tonight’s inclusivity panel. “Being the only Latina in this business for a good number of years, it was lonely, and I don’t feel alone anymore.”

“Our numbers may be low but as I said, we are at a moment, and it’s the moment of change, it’s going to take time, but the passion, the energy, the commitment, the voices, social media, and I think building a community. And I think there’s a word too, and it’s the word for Gloria on One Day at a Time which is ‘Intersectionality’. Which is knowing when to stand behind somebody and support them, and hold them up. That word and that term is new to our activism today, which is about ‘Intersectionality’; knowing when to stand behind somebody, to hold them up higher, so they can see over; they can see over the top, and every one of these women here is going to stand and hold someone up a little higher.”

In January, Tassler formed PatMa productions with Denise DiNovi with the mission of being a “a multi-platform independent studio aimed at amplifying diverse voices.”

In regards to Tassler’s peers who’ve reponded to the Moonves’ scandal, on July 29, CBS Films boss Terry Press wrote in a Facebook post that the allegations made against the network chief were “difficult to reconcile” and “generates as many questions as answers”. At the same time, Press threw her support behind Moonves who she knows is a “honorable, compassionate and a big booster of women inside CBS.” Press is also a big supporter of #MeToo and said that she’d resign from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last year if Harvey Weinstein wasn’t kicked out after his sex scandal broke.

On Sunday, CBS network entertainment president Kelly Kahl was pummeled with questions about Moonves and his network’s work culture, which is supposed to have a zero tolerence policy, one that Moonves called for in a company-wide email last year.

“Not saying we’re perfect, no large company is and there is always room for improvement,” Kahl told the TCA press. “Leslie has been an excellent boss and a mentor as well, at the same time we need to respect the voices that comes forward.”

“We are committed to a collaborative, inclusive and safe workplace,” Kahl added. “Even with all that is going on around us, we are still running our business.”

Showtime CEO David Nivens addressed the Moonves controversy during his network’s TCA session by simply saying “I understand you may have questions to which you want answers and I do too”, while emphasizing that in regards to the pay cable network’s work environment “nothing is more important than to have a strong, safe, inclusive” one.

Early Monday, CW chief Mark Pedowitz said he “cannot discuss CBS,” because his network is a joint venture between CBS and Warner Bros, adding “different place, different culture, different world. We’re fairly autonomous.”

Pedowitz also gave his support to Moonves saying “Les is a a great executive and they (CBS) will determine what best happens.”

On Tuesday, CBS said it would consolidate the findings from its Charlie Rose investigation from the Proskauer Rose law firm with those of Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton which were hired to investigate the Moonves sexual allegations.

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